Darkness in El Dorado - Archived Document
Anthropological Niche of Douglas W. Hume
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10,000 Years of Tribal Warfare: History, Science, Ideology and "The State of Nature"

R. Brian Ferguson
Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology
Rutgers University, Newark, NJ 07102

Abstract: The idea that human nature, or the nature of social existence, fates humankind to war is a myth charter of Western civilization. An image of Yanomami warfare has been used to support that myth, recently reinforced by claims that intensive war is the rule throughout the archaeological record. This talk challenges that ideological package. First, it uses archaeological and ethnohistorical information to assert that globally, war has discernable starting points no more than 10,000 years ago, and that from those points we can reconstruct how war eventually came to be the rule in our "ethnographic universe." Second, it considers the Yanomami, following them backwards through history to show that at every point we can reach their warfare been responsive to the changing expressions of Western contact. Third, it describes how ahistorical and unscientific images of Yanomami warfare support structural realist positions in international relations theory, and a smorgasbord of notions about male violence in the current wave of psychological Darwinism.